Canadian inflation rate slows 1.0% in June

OTTAWA — The annual pace of inflation slowed once again last month as lower gasoline and electricity prices helped offset higher costs in most other categories, Statistics Canada said Friday.

Overall, the agency’s latest inflation report found that prices were one per cent higher in June compared to a year earlier.

The June number followed inflation readings of 1.3 per cent in May and 1.6 per cent in April.

Last month’s inflation figure matched expectations from a consensus of economists that had predicted a reading of one per cent, according to Thomson Reuters.

Statistics Canada said lower gasoline prices last month were a primary contributor behind inflation’s deceleration as pump prices contracted 1.4 per cent compared to a year earlier.

Electricity prices dropped 5.3 per cent over the same period, while other energy costs rose, including 10 per cent growth in natural gas and a 7.8 per cent increase in the price of fuel oil and other fuels.

Upward pressure on prices also came from a 7.1 per cent rise in traveller accommodation, seven per cent for travel tours and 2.5 per cent for restaurants.

Food prices were up 0.6 per cent in June — the first increase after eight consecutive months of contractions, the report said.

The latest inflation numbers show that the headline rate once again slipped further away from the Bank of Canada’s target of two per cent.

Canadian inflation has been dropping since February — the last monthly reading of two per cent.

Some experts had pointed to weak inflation data in recent months as a reason for the central to bank to hold off on hiking its benchmark interest rate, despite signs the economy was building momentum

Earlier this month, however, the bank raised its trendsetting rate for the first time in nearly seven years.

The data also showed that two of the Bank of Canada’s three measures for core inflation, which omit volatile consumer items like gas, accelerated slightly last month to 1.6 and 1.4 per cent. The other one was unchanged at 1.2 per cent.

The inflation-targeting bank also scrutinizes these core measures ahead of its rate decisions.

The agency also released retail trade figures Friday for May that show total sales increased 0.6 per cent, its third straight month of growth. Total retail trade for May rose above $48.9 billion.

The expansion in retail trade was propelled in part by stronger auto sales as well as grocery and alcohol purchases, Statistics Canada said.

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